Commissioners let department heads shed 'interim' tag

The Kitsap County commissioners elevated two interim directors to head their respective departments at a special meeting Monday.

Cindy Baker will head the Department of Community Development, while Bud Harris will head the information technology department.

The appointments are effective immediately.

Both were hired as assistant directors shortly before the unexpected resignation of their department heads. And both went through the hiring process, which in Baker’s case took eight months.

“I’m excited and relieved,” Baker said a few minutes after the appointment announcement. “This is a lightning rod position. I will do my best to give the commissioners the best information for their policy decisions.

Baker is a known quantity to her staff, the commissioners and the public, and she has earned praise from diverse groups.

Baker said her permanent appointment would provide the department with a stability and consistency. One of her first steps will be to develop a countywide growth strategy.

“We’ve not had an opportunity to plan,” Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent said. “We’ve been reacting to things.”

Harris’ appointment signals a change, since the IT director is now a department head instead of part of administrative services.

“I will be attending meetings on a regular basis,” he said, “This will allow me to have more of the casual conversation about the wants, needs and expectations of the division. This will allow me to be more interactively involved and in sync with the county’s strategic direction.”

Harris said he will become immediately involved in developing a long-term strategic plan, which is difficult due to the fast pace of technological change. This includes planning for disaster recovery, to anticiapte any event that disrupts services.

Both Baker and Harris will be involved in personnel issues. Harris needs to fill three positions, including assistant director. Baker must fill the high-profile vacancy left by Planning Director Laura Ditmer, who resigned in November.

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